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Book Marketing: How to Use Your Blog to Reach Readers for Your Books

Outdoor photo of self-published author Atulya Bingham

Indie author Atulya Bingham on location in Turkey

As if blogging isn’t tricky enough, Turkish author Atulya Bingham faces the additional challenge of running a blog without a proper internet connection. Yet smart strategic thinking has enabled her to use her blog effectively to promote her fiction and non-fiction books.

“It’s not often I like a blog well enough to purchase a book written by the blogger–this was an exception . . .” Amazon review for Mud Ball.

It’s always heart-warming to receive a positive review from a stranger, but it’s even better when they inadvertently offer some marketing feedback in the process. I also follow a couple of blogs, and have bought books from those bloggers. The rest? Honestly? I swipe them from virtual existence, not least because I live off-grid and only have 4 GB a month of internet to play with.

How can you create a blog that hooks new readers?

Many people are obsessed with hip web designs. Yet, attracting new readers to your blog has little to do with a swanky new website, and far more to do with relevant content. When you share a link on social media, no one even knows what your website looks like before they click through. Google doesn’t know either.

Far more important is a blog with a clear niche, genuinely useful information and a sense of community. Two questions bloggers could ask before they launch into what is potentially a lot of work, are:

  • Who is your audience?
  • How are you serving them?

Many authors’ blogs turn into random accounts of day-to-day living (which unless your day-to-day living involves space travel or hunkering down with a pack of wolves, probably isn’t going to net you avid new readers). A thriving blog is a world that you’re inviting people to participate in, and it helps if that world is somehow related to the kind of books you write. A few examples of authors doing this well include Emily Benet (Humour), Beth Terry (Green living via My Plastic Free Life), Lisa Egle (Travel via Chicky Bus).

Another point worth considering is that people don’t read blogs for nothing. They want something, three things to be precise:

  • information
  • inspiration
  • entertainment.

I have two websites, but the one which is grabbing me lots of new readers is my The Mud website (www.themudhome.com). The site has two elements:

  • a static element full of permanently visible information (on how to build an earthbag house and live sustainably off-grid)

Screenshot of blog

  • a more creative blog which acts as a window to my off-grid life on a Turkish hill

 

screenshot

Nearly all The Mud traffic comes from Google (yes the SEO makes a difference) and is sent to my free earthbag building guide. But what happens next? Visitors often find themselves drawn to my blog via some interspersed links.

screenshot

 

Summary

To create a blog that sucks in new readers, you need to:

  1. Create a relevant theme for your posts (Mongolia/The Tudors/The Paranormal) that will offer something valuable to your niche of readers
  2. Post some genuinely helpful or fascinating information
  3. Write that information in a way that entertains or inspires, and intersperse it with links to your other creative written work

Would it work for fiction?

I’m also a fiction writer. I have a novel set in Turkey. I could have begun a blog with the Turkish Riviera as the theme. I considered it. Why didn’t I do it? Because most major bloggers for Turkey reviewed my book and posted about it, so it really wasn’t worth the bother. Which brings me to the final point.

Is the blog slog worth it?

I’m not on my site every day. In fact, I only post once a month, but I make sure it’s something of quality because my posts are my adverts. Just like writing books, blogging is a labour of love. I’m passionate about people building their own natural homes, and I love describing my life in the wild. Each post feels therapeutic, like a personal conversation with nature. If it wasn’t, would I spend all that time churning out posts just to sell my books? Not likely. I’d harangue a few bloggers to review instead.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION! How does your blog mesh with your books? Please feel free to share examples in the comments section – links allowed!

 

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5 Responses to Book Marketing: How to Use Your Blog to Reach Readers for Your Books

  1. Atulya October 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    Yes Octavia, I thought it would work great for historical fiction too. I have also researched historical information from blogs and bought a book after finding the author a) provided fascinating detailed info and b) wrote the information so entertainingly I was hooked.

  2. Octavia Randolph August 17, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    I think Atlulya’s emphasis on having a clearly defined niche, and providing true value to readers is critical – and obviously something she does very well. I write meticulously researched historical fiction. My website has over one hundred essays on it, all drawn from my research into my novels. These essays (“How Parchment is Made”, “Medieval Clothing”, “The True Story of Lady Godiva” and so on) attract large numbers of visitors who don’t even know I write fiction. They are students researching homework, adults interested in the topic, etc. Once on my site they also see my books. Becoming a trusted source of information – as well as entertainment – has been an important part of my own success.

  3. Sue Coletta August 9, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I write crime. It’s also my biggest passion. So my entire blog is geared toward crime, writing and reading. But before I scored my publishing deal my most popular posts were how-to posts about crime writing. Now I’m trying to gear my blog more toward readers. Not that writers aren’t readers, but I’d like to offer something for everyone. It’s not easy, though. 🙂

  4. Atulya K Bingham August 3, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    Thanks Lorna! Yes, I agree that a decent blog is perfect for creating a brand.

  5. Lorna August 2, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    I, too, find a blog invaluable. I test for readers response to new non fiction material and yes, people buy my book having read a post. It’s great for brand awareness. Interestingly, I’ve been planning to try and get a column in a US farming paper, it’s been on the long finger for ages. An Amercian group of farmers are visiting Ireland, came across me via my blog and contacted me to ask if I’d like to meet them. It turns out that one of the farmers is an editor of a farming magazine and has contacts with lots of other papers too. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.

    Great post – Your blog and website is very visual and eye-catching. Lovely site.

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